Monday, November 28, 2011

An Inside Job

From my bike ride yesterday - and no, this is not "sepia," this is the color of winter in Colorado - until it snows.
No one ever said or did anything to me that made me want to get sober.  No one ever said or did anything to me that made me want to live well.

I got sober when I was done drinking - and I believe I was "done" by the Grace of God.  When I was done, I was done.  I did not require much assistance from anyone - except the normal help of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  My sponsor helped me to get through the twelve steps which brought about a spiritual awakening which I believe kept me sober.  My friends invited me to coffee and dinner and into their homes and hearts.  That was a huge help.

When my daughter began her spiral into alcoholism and addiction my heart broke.  She was the dearest child - the one with the golden hair and the crazy wild way of behaving that was so attractive to everyone but her teachers.  My other two children are people I love and am proud of.  They are accomplished adults.  But this difficult one?  She has a special place in my heart - I have spoken to many other mothers of alcoholics and addicts - and we all feel this way.  We're slightly ashamed of it, but it is the truth.

I went to al-anon and was helped greatly.  But being an alcoholic, I felt that I really had to be in AA meetings or risk losing my sobriety.  I realized that all I could do was focus on living well.   That would be the ONLY way I could carry any kind of message to my daughter.  Intervening with her would not help, I knew this from my own experience.

When she was a minor, there were things we had to do - like reporting her as a runaway when she ran away.  We did this so many times that her father and I had a schedule - we took turns reporting her.  We eventually went to court and relinquished custody of her to the state.  That was one of the most difficult days of my life.  It was the only way she could be contained.  She was locked up between the ages of 16 and 18.  She graduated from high school and they let her go.  She came back to my house.  And went right back to her old ways.

Fast forward to 29 years of age:  She had lost custody of her two daughters.  She had lost her home (she had a period of high function, where she only drank and did not use drugs and she bought a house and gained a hundred pounds), she had lost many jobs in a row, she had even lost her apartment, she was essentially homeless.   She experienced a heroin overdose.  She was with "friends" who literally threw her out of their house so she wouldn't die in it - and get them in trouble.  She was in an alley dying.  Somehow she got someone to come and get her and she convalesced at his house.  After a few weeks of staying in the house, no showers, no baths, just laying on the couch... she knew she had to do something.  She found an AA meeting and the bus fare to get there.

She got to the meeting and found a group of people who understood her.  She felt "at home" at last.  She was done with drinking and using drugs.  She has been sober since that day.

Am I secure in her sobriety?  No.  I am not secure about anyone's sobriety, including my own.  I don't take anyone's sobriety for granted.  I have had too many friends and relatives who were sober for a while and then weren't.  I don't think there is anything more heartbreaking than that.  Am I happy about her sobriety?  Oh, yes.  Is it what I thought it would be when I occasionally dreamed that she would get sober?  No.  But it is wonderful.  It is not what I expected, but in many ways, it is much more wonderful.  She is that golden haired wild child girl - only now she is 32 years old.   What a blessing this is.

I am so grateful to God for my sobriety and my daughter's sobriety.  I have some other loved ones who are sober - and I am so very grateful for that.

The familiar refrain when I see someone who looks like they are really going to stay sober?  They say they were done.  Done.  They have absolutely no desire to go back to that way of life.   And that is an inside job.  No one can do that for you.  That is internal to the core of your being.

Last night I got to have dinner with the woman who took me to my first meeting 27 years ago.  She was my best friend for years.   She will never be unseated as the best friend of my heart.  I love her.  But last night, she did not order a beer - probably because I was there.  But she kept sipping her husband's beer.  It was so weird to see her drinking - even though I have known for years that she is drinking.   And when I drove away, I had an intuitive thought that she was probably pouring herself a nice big drink.    Sad.  But she was never convinced she was an alcoholic.  We absolutely have to have a full knowledge of our condition to stay sober.  It takes a lot of experience to get that full knowledge.  No one else can give it to us.

I am so grateful to God for that gift - that being done.  That desire to stay sober.  That willingness to do what was suggested by the big book and my sponsors over the years.


Lou said...

This is why I read RECOVERY blogs, not exclusively "addiction" blogs.

dAAve said...

I too was done. I just didn't know how to stop OR to stay stopped.

Thanks MC. Tell that youngun howdy from me, please.

Syd said...

Beautiful, MC. I think that so many people need to read this. Thank you.

atomic momma said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing your hard earned wisdom with the rest of us. I hold this close to my heart.

Anonymous said...

Great post MC, thank you.

Annette said...

You have no idea how powerful this was for me this morning. Thank you. I hear over and over again, that when someone's kid got clean/sober it was due to NOTHING the parents did or didn't do. I am grateful that you are here in our blogger world.

Mrs D said...

Hey this is a great post, I really love it. Thanks for sharing. That DONE thing is so true. I am done drinking, I really am. I feel it. I know it. That's why it's possible for me to carve out a new sober life. I wish some of my loved ones would be DONE too but they have to feel it themselves don't they. Thanks again, Mrs D xxx

Pammie said...

You are so much better at explaining my heart than I am. I tried to write on this subject last night but this morning, it does not make sense to me.
Funny, we can only explain it to each other, the ones who need to understand it.....don't.

Mary LA said...

So good to read you. As always, but perhaps more so at this time of year when the craziness gets to em a little..

Mulay said...

I wrote a large comment to this but unfortunately had forgotten my password!

This post has changed my life. Again, I just know, just know that I am done and I am beaten. What you said about needing the experiences to know chimed with my heart, really chimed.

I have decided to attempt my own blog. So different to my work blog but I need to live sober. If I do not, I die. And to live sober I need AA.

Commission Streamer said...

Thanks for sharing this.